A regular dental check-up via a dental plan is a cost-effective way to help staff stay healthy
As it’s well known that oral diseases and the major chronic life-threatening diseases share common risk factors, such as smoking and poor diet, oral health has become far more prominent in people’s minds. Dental check-ups cover more than just teeth and gums – a dentist appointment involves a check-up on the whole mouth, and is just as important as a visit to the GP.
Focusing on prevention is at the heart of what we do at Denplan. Our aim is to protect the oral health of the UK’s population by ensuring that people take a preventive approach.
However, it is important for people to look at their overall general wellbeing too, not just their oral health.
It’s reassuring that a healthy three-quarters of companies that we spoke to this year told us that they have a wellbeing strategy in place, which clearly shows that health and wellbeing
is firmly on the corporate agenda.
Colin Perry, head of corporate marketing for Denplan, says: “Staff health and wellbeing has increased sharply in importance and most employers recognise the impact that a healthy workforce has on motivation, performance and even reducing staff absenteeism.
“It’s not an area companies can afford to overlook, especially if they want to retain staff in the long run and avoid gaps in their workforce due to sickness.”
The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) calculated that days o_ due to oral health problems cost the UK economy more than £36m every year. It is estimated that each year 415,000 people miss at least one day of work due to oral health-related problems, and 20% of people would call in sick if they had toothache.
What companies are starting to realise is that these issues are mostly preventable and can be easily resolved by educating people on proper preventive oral healthcare. Unlike other medical professionals, dentists and dental nurses see ‘healthy’ patients every day. This provides them with the opportunity to highlight the importance of prevention to reduce the risk of any long-term problems in the future.
While the responsibility is ultimately down to the patient, it’s arguable that employers also have a role to play in communicating the importance of good oral health to their staff. It’s not unrealistic to assume that last-minute absenteeism could decrease if as much emphasis was placed on employees’ oral wellbeing as is placed on their general health. While most of us know that we should be eating and drinking sensibly to control our weight and protect ourselves from problems such as heart disease and diabetes, do most people also realise the strong link between healthy teeth and gums?
While private medical insurance is offered to employees as protection for worst-case scenarios, a dental plan can be accessed at all times to prevent major – and often costly – situations from arising later on. According to our annual health and wellbeing benefits survey, 73% of respondents agree that a dental plan can be used regularly and not just for emergencies.
Dental plans are now a key component to a strong overall benefits package and increasingly, employees are expecting one. Nearly two-thirds of employees without access to a dental plan said they would consider one if they were offered it. A further 60% agree that a dental plan is a tangible, usable benefit.
Unlike pensions, which might not be accessed for years, and products such as medical insurance and life assurance, which will hopefully be used only rarely, everyone should be visiting the dentist at least once every two years.
As we have shown, a check-up at the dentist isn’t just about our teeth. It gives a good indication of overall health and potential problems such as mouth cancer. Companies are only as good as their workforce, so if they can help to encourage decent oral health, this could in turn help to reduce future absences from often avoidable illnesses or emergency appointments.
1 Denplan health and wellbeing benefits survey 2016